Rapid Response: I Don’t Believe the Gospels Were Written By Eyewitnesses

by J Warner Wallace

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. What would you say if someone said, “I don’t trust the Gospels because I don’t believe they were written by eyewitnesses.” Here is a conversational example of how I recently responded to this objection:

“I understand the objection, and the first issue we have to examine in order to determine if the Gospels are eyewitness accounts are the claims of the authors of these accounts. If you look at the end of John’s gospel, you’ll see that he clearly describes himself as an eyewitness. Also, look at Peter’s; he also describes himself as an eye witness. Next, we need to ask the important question: “How early are these gospels?” If they’re not early in history, they can’t have been written by eye witnesses. If they emerge in history in the second or third century, for example, they weren’t written directly by eyewitnesses. They’re simply too late in history.

When I first began to investigate the Gospels, I looked at the Book of Acts; the record of the life of the disciples after the ascension of Jesus. I wanted to see if there were any good indicators, any reliable circumstantial evidence, that would provide a clue about the dating of that account. Here’s what I saw: when writing the book of Acts, Luke never mentions the destruction of the temple or the siege of Jerusalem that took place prior to the destruction of the temple. This would have been something important; after all, Jesus predicted this event in the Gospels. Why not include something that Jesus predicted, if for no other reason, than to show Jesus was an accurate predictor?

Secondly, there are three main characters in the Book of Acts who repeatedly occupy the most space on every page…

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Rapid Response: I Don’t Believe the Gospels Were Written By Eyewitnesses | Cold Case Christianity